2020 in review

2020 in review


A year where a lot happened in the world, yet nothing was done.

A year when nearly every plan you thought you had broke into pieces months, weeks, and sometimes even days beforehand.

A year where events, gatherings, and life milestones were postponed or cancelled altogether.

A year that will go down in history.

I’ve put off writing this yearly review because I feel like so little got accomplished this year. A lot of things got lost in the chaos. A lot of things we grieved over. It’s weird reflecting on this year. A year nobody saw coming. A new decade that promised so much potential, yet we were greeted with a global pandemic that affected every. single. person. in the world somehow or another. But, as I look over from my desk where I will type cathartic words onto the screen, Gwin & Zoey are basking in the warmth of the sun which is just enough to inspire some light into the following post:

Josh and I kicked off the new year/decade with a run (as we always do) at Camp Edge.

My parents were sick for most of the first week of January so I spent that week with Josh. Looking back, we think they may have had COVID before COVID was even “a thing” in the US. Little did I know, I already learned the importance of quarantining before “quarantine” even became a part of my daily vocabulary.

During this week with Josh, I also had to bring my car to the mechanic because something was wrong with my tire. They fixed it but, unbeknownst to me, this was probably the start of the bad luck of 2020.

I set a goal to do at least 20 push-ups per day. I maintained this routine for about two months. Then the world turned upside down and that was that.

I worked at a special services school over my winter break (the same school I worked at in the summer of 2019). This time around they bounced me from classroom to classroom, working with kids from pre-k up to high school.

My last official in-person semester began. I think my friends & I were all at the point of wanting to be done with school forever.

On January 18th, Josh & I hosted our first ever race event – a scavenger hunt race. We crammed 65+ people into S&S that Saturday. I remember days/weeks leading up to race day, I was having difficulty sleeping with an ever-growing checklist in my head for race day. I would have dreams related to the race. Josh woodburned the awards. The day was a success & everyone loved our unique event!

Toasting to our first time as race directors!

I continued to re-read the Harry Potter series and was able to finish the series this year. Still to this day, it is a great series to read!

My last Level I fieldwork placement was at an outpatient neuro-rehab office. This was by far my favorite fieldwork placement and I learned so much from the clients and my fieldwork educator. My FW educator allowed me to lead multiple sessions throughout my time there which was soooo beneficial to my learning and really made me feel like I was an OT, rather than a student. The downside was that the commute was 45 minutes (without rush hour traffic) and up to 1.5 hours during rush hour. Regardless, I loved it at this site!

S&S had many group runs in the winter months which was good to maintain motivation.

For grad school, we had to lead an exercise/nutrition group at a nearby senior living center. I was able to use the chair Zumba routine I had created years ago as an activities director at an assisted living. The residents LOVED it and I had a lot of fun leading them through each song/dance.

S&S hosted a Leap Day trail run. We had a great turnout despite it being frigid that morning.

Midterms week turned into Hell Week in a matter of about 2 hours or less. COVID had entered the United States. Stockton said they were closing down until two weeks after spring break. We prepared for several weeks of virtual grad school. Little did we know the pandemic was going to last more than a month.

The start of the pandemic in the United States – March 14th, 2020 – is date I don’t ever have to look up. The first day of spring break. One week before my birthday. The same day Josh & I had planned for months ahead of time to go to a Flyers game (which was cancelled a few days before). And for some reason, a S&S group run – the last official group run of 2020.

I spent my spring break with Gwin, Zoey, and our foster dog at the time, Royce.

For my birthday, Josh & I went to Fair Hill followed by ordering Grain on Main take-out.

In March I thought it would be cool to run 26.2 miles when I would be 26 years and 2 months old. I did start training for this goal; however, as the pandemic started to get worse, I knew running a marathon distance could potentially compromise my immune system and put me at greater risk for becoming sick. Therefore, this goal was pushed aside. As I was training though, I had some great long runs through Josh’s town where I challenged myself to run as many north to south roads and then east to west roads. It kept me entertained and increased the miles without ever being too far from home base.

I wrote over 60 letters/notes to be sent to three different assisted living homes in southern NJ. A pandemic forced residents into isolation from their families which broke my heart. I knew from an OT-perspective that the isolation would lead to both physical and mental health declines which prompted me to write the notes/letters to promote social engagement, even from a far.

Sometime in the beginning of the pandemic I started watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I ended the series sometime in the summer. I enjoyed it!

Through most of the spring and summer, I sent my grandparents weekly puzzles (cryptograms, word searches, crossword puzzles, etc) to keep them feeling connected and less isolated. I think they enjoyed them.

My mom (along with many other people) celebrated her birthday in quarantine. We made this cake for her.

Comic relief during the pandemic

In April, I was supposed to go to Boston to present research at the AOTA national conference. That was cancelled and I fought with airline companies for weeks to refund me my tickets.

I started the Quarantine Miles Challenge through S&S to give people motivated to get outside and exercise. Individuals consistently participated for two weeks which I deem as a success. I know it was motivating for me and held me accountable to get out and move despite living in a pandemic.

Stockton made the entire rest of the semester virtual. Every day I felt like my entire day was spent on Zoom or completing online assignments. Screentime sky-rocketed! Stockton also pulled us all out of our fieldwork placements. This was sad for me because I was really enjoying my time and learning at my site.

On April 15th, my cohort was informed that our first Level II FW placement would be in September rather than May, delaying our graduation by 3+ months. THIS WAS A SUCKY DAY.

My mom and I started to do puzzles – a pandemic trend! We completed two 1000 piece puzzles some time in April/May.

For Easter, we delivered food to Mommom and Granny since we could not have our typical dinner gathering.

I participated in a few birthday drive-bys in the spring/summer. They are quite the quick & easy way to celebrate with someone!

Josh & I spent some weekends in the spring biking to Fort Mott to lounge in our hammock. That was a fun way to pass the time without being in close contact with other people.

Hammocking at Fort Mott!

I logged out of Zoom class early one day just to go watch the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds fly over Wilmington. The park was packed with people hoping to catch a glimpse of the planes.

S&S continuously updated our policy for services. Most of the spring, the entire summer, and into part of the fall we only offered curbside services. Yet, despite the change in service delivery, S&S saw its busiest year yet. Due to the pandemic and gyms being closed, more and more people turned to outdoor activities for exercise and leisure. The biking industry EXPLODED. We went to being concerned in March about how the shutdowns would effect the business to being completely overwhelmed and mobbed with people wanting their old bikes repaired and wanting to purchase new bikes. The demand for bikes skyrocketed but the supply chain had been broken when China shut down. This year has been chaotic and overwhelming for S&S but with an “all-hands-on-deck” approach, we made it through.

I desperately started looking for work knowing that grad school was delayed. I painted parking curbs and picnic tables at the winery…. you gotta do whatcha gotta do.

At the end of April, I started the Miles for Heroes Challenge as a way to support frontline healthcare workers and local eateries. Ninety-three people participated in the Miles for Heroes Challenge, covering over 2,500 cumulative miles, and $1,145 was raised. My mom and I made deliveries to Inspira Mullica Hill, Inspira Vineland, and Salem Hospital by delivering food from Rode’s Fireside Grill, Sweetsboro, Marino’s of Mullica Hill, Liscio’s Bakery, and Italian Kitchen. The support for this idea was incredible and I felt that this challenge was the least I could do to support those who were facing challenges in the healthcare world day in and day out.

The GCC XC Nationals team of 2012 was named the RCSJ Team of the Decade. That was exciting!

I stopped using Instagram for most of the summer. I stopped uploading my runs/bikes to Strava. I just needed to disconnect from people and take a break from social media hubbub.

The day the spring semester ended, I started working at Amazon *gag*. I was THAT desperate for a job and so frustrated that grad school was delayed. One, I loatheeee Amazon. Two, working in a warehouse sucks. Three, the physical strain of lifting, transporting, and stacking people’s crap was enough to make me quit (on top of the fact that they were making me do stupid things like follow the cleaning people around to make sure they were doing their jobs correctly and forcing us to use the shuttle (which I refused to do and rode my bike to/from the alternate parking lot until I got sick of that and figured out a way to park at the warehouse itself without getting caught)). NEVER. AGAIN. I lasted less than two months.

Josh & I planted our garden again this year. The garden produced an excessive amount of eggplant.

We also started grilling every weekend and enjoyed some very tasty asparagus, corn, and burgers (veggie for me).

Grilling at its finest!

I went hiking with Robert in the beginning of June to Ceres and Parvin. We had a nice time exploring the trails!

For Father’s Day, we went mountain biking to Tall Pines and GCC. Due to the storm the day before, everything was flooded out which made for a mtb adventure that we didn’t really expect.

Josh spent June/July in a medical boot due to an overuse injury (torn plantar interossei muscle of the 3rd metatarsal) and 6+ weeks on short-term disability.

I helped Uncle Mike keep his tradition of participating in the Pitman 4 Miler alive by running with him and Tammy Fourth of July morning. Even though this year’s race was virtual, he has done this race 39 years in a row. We couldn’t break the tradition this year, pandemic or no pandemic.

In July, I rode over 500 miles on my bike, motivated by the Trek Century Challenge. I sacrificed a lot of sleep that month but it felt great achieving that goal. Completing the challenge earned me a mug and stem cap LOL (along with a good feeling of accomplishment of course!)

In July, Josh & I repainted the interior of his house. That was a hot and long week of labor!

In August, I started working for Instacart as recommended by Brianna. Since Amazon didn’t work out, I figured I’d try another “millennial” job by shopping for others. It was a lot better than Amazon and provided me with flexibility to help at S&S and to have a source of income once fieldwork began.

At the end of August, I organized a surprise drive/bike-by for my parents for the 5th anniversary of S&S. They were very surprised and so excited to see everyone! This was also the only unofficial-official group ride of 2020 for S&S.

S&S Drive-by – the biggest group I was physically with all year.

On 9/11, I organized a small group run of running friends to honor the lives lost and impacted by that tragic day 19 years ago.

My first day of Level II FW was 119 days overdue but on September 14th, I was able to finally start my first placement at an outpatient office. I learned a lot at this placement and was able to complete all 12 weeks providing in-person OT! My FW educator was extremely nice and willing to teach me whatever I needed to learn. The clients I got to work with will always hold a special place in my heart as I enjoyed getting to know them and seeing their progress through the weeks I got to work with them. I am grateful I completed this rotation with only one minor COVID scare. One down, one to go!

Brianna got engaged and asked me to be her maid of honor! She said yes! I said yes!

We volunteered at the Cow Run again, playing 80s music and dancing in the street while handing out water (masked of course).

Alex Trebek passed away.

I really missed group runs and running with people but every time I saw a picture of a big group of runners, I’d instantly get anxious thinking “they’re putting themselves at risk for getting sick”. As much as running solo 80% of this year sucked, I came to enjoy it for the most part. I’m also eternally grateful for dogs to run with.

Josh & I knocked down his fence one weekend day.

On October 2nd, Josh & I adopted Burton from SJRAS. He has stolen our hearts ever since.

Burton’s adoption day!

My dad helped Josh put up a fence in Josh’s backyard.

Burton cut his paw pad on glass about 2 weeks after we got him which resulted in him wearing a sock for 2 weeks and the cone of shame. This also resulted in Josh & I sifting through dirt in his backyard for hours and hours and hours and hours to prevent him from cutting his paw pad again. This was a stressful time.

Granny helped me sew a fasteners board as an OT project I wanted to create.

I participated in the only “race” of the year – the virtual Sasquatch 5k… that was supposed to happen in April. It was moved to October as an in-person event, then changed to a virtual event when the pandemic continued.

My cohort learned that we would be getting another FW coordinator for our last FW rotation. My cohort has now had a total of three FW coordinators over the course of a 2.5-3 year program.

Election year – the year we submitted out ballots to marked election mailboxes. Biden won, Trump was/is in denial he lost, and there was a celebration in Wilmington. Josh & I didn’t go to watch the fireworks across the river.

I went on my own Halloween lights run one night. Lots of cool displays!

On Halloween, I set up a bench at the end of Josh’s front walkway and spread out pieces of candy all along the bench so kids wouldn’t be sticking their hands into a bowl of candy. I sat on Josh’s front step all night (masked even though I was about 15′ from the bench). Sadly, only four kids came by and we had a lot of extra candy leftover.

Burton has had many playdates with Gwin & Zoey. Burton exhausts them!

We learned that Burton likes to bite the leaf blower and vacuum, that car rides give him extreme anxiety, and that he loves socks and soft items like winter hats, shoes, and any other article of clothing. He also loves chasing Josh on his bike and snuggling once he gets tired! Josh & I also got to take him on hikes and runs to Camp Edge, Brandywine, and Fair Hill.

Josh installed an exterior outlet so I could decorate his front porch with Christmas lights! Yay!

I became obsessed with reading. My goal this year was to read at least 10 books – I’ve read 19 books this year. Silver lining of the pandemic? I also restarted my GoodReads account – social media for book lovers! WOO!

I hosted a bonfire with Megan, Emily, and Aaron on a windy, cold November night after Thanksgiving. We enjoyed our time together (socially-distanced) but were all shivering by the end of the night!

Josh and I started watching Stranger Things on Netflix.

I reread my “2019 year in review” and it said “A year from now, my yearly review should say “finished grad school” somewhere in it”….. well, I’m here to tell you that I can’t write that in this year’s review.

Mom & I created a 25 days of Christmas gift for the grandparents since we would not be hosting a normal Christmas gathering this year. They loved opening a gift each day and I loved putting each “package” of gifts together for them.

The COVID vaccine started to be administered in the United States a week or so before Christmas.

S&S hosted a modified Santa Run. We collected and delivered over 1200lbs of dog/cat supplies! SJRAS was so appreciative and I was so grateful we were able to pull off a modified version of this event to continue to show SJRAS my gratitude for providing our homes with years with Hope, Gwin, Zoey, Burton, and many foster animals!

1200 lbs of donations dropped off!

My car exceeded 328,000 miles.

We bought our Christmas tree the week of Christmas and made chocolate chip cookies, dried cranberry oatmeal cookies with white chocolate chips, pizelles, and Swedish tea cakes.

On Christmas Eve, a rain/wind storm passed through our area, resulting in power outages and downed trees.

On Christmas morning, Mommom came over to stay warm and we ate breakfast socially distanced and masked up when we weren’t eating. Granny required emergency service for her heater so she didn’t come over until the day after Christmas, where again we opened gifts in the sunroom masked up.

This was also Burton’s 1st Christmas! My parents gifted me, Josh, and Burton red flannel shirts so we would all match!

This year my family fostered Royce, Bourbon, & Gloria – all precious dogs – and Otis, Roger, Starr, and Skyy – all cute kittens.

Weird COVID things that I want to look back on thinking “wow, that’s what it was like during the pandemic” (in no particular order):

  • There was/is a toilet paper and paper towel shortage. So much so, that stores put a one item limit on these such products.
  • I wipe down groceries from the store with sanitizing wipes after every shopping trip.
  • Purell hand sanitizer does not exist in stores anymore. Lysol is also obsolete.
  • During fieldwork, clients never got to see the bottom half of my face.
  • During March, we thought grocery stores were going to close down which resulted in panic shopping. I remember telling Josh to stock up on canned items, pasta, and other non-perishables. We were thinking very unrealistically.
  • I walked into a Shoprite without a mask once. I realized it two seconds after walking in the door and instantly gasped and sprinted out the exit door.
  • Grocery stores attempted to promote social distancing by putting arrows on the floor to make aisles directional. Unfortunately, people do not know they have to follow the arrows.
  • At Wawa, there are signs that instruct you to roll your window down only 3 inches.
  • The first time I went to eat AT a restaurant (outside) was in September (the night before Brianna got engaged actually). The second time was a few weeks later (outside again). I do not feel comfortable dining inside.
  • For Christmas, I got hand sanitizer in my stocking and face masks from Mommom. What a world we live in!
  • I quarantined from Josh for two weeks after Thanksgiving when his co-worker was with someone who tested positive for COVID. This was also the last two weeks of my FW rotation and I did not want to take any risks that would delay me finishing. Everyone turned out to be ok.
  • I do not foresee myself flying or using public transportation any time soon.
  • I am glad in March I did not know the pandemic would last countless months. I think many people, myself included, didn’t see this as something that would still be affecting us in December. But, here we are.
  • I want to get the vaccine when it becomes available to me.
  • There was limited availability of outdoor equipment/merchandise, such as bicycles, kayaks, in-ground pools, and lumber for decks and fences.
  • Trail systems became very popular places as more people participated in more activities outside.
  • Hair salons, among other businesses, were shut down for a few months.
  • I have a bag of homemade masks in my car (that Granny made from fabric and recycled bike tubes for the ear straps). I always have a mask hanging from my rearview mirror. No mask, no service.
  • Mom did grocery shopping for Granny in the beginning of the pandemic.
  • People think it’s ok to wear a mask that doesn’t cover their nose. News flash: that’s not ok.
  • People wore masks in their cars, on the trails, and (of course) inside public spaces.
  • Stores had limited capacity which resulted in an employee standing outside to monitor how many people were going in/out.
  • We watched church virtually through Facebook on Easter and Christmas Eve. Churches were at limited capacity in the summer and fall. At the beginning of the pandemic, churches were closed with the exception of the priest, deacon, lectors, and a musician during masses.
  • Zoom is wonderful technology and has provided me with the opportunity to stay connected with my closest friends from Stockton and family members during holidays.
  • I was scheduled for a car inspection two days after the pandemic “started”. The DMVs and inspection stations were closed and rules had to change for cars that had expiring inspections.
  • For doctor’s appointments, waiting rooms in the office became non-existent. The new, safer, waiting room became your car.
  • “Social distancing” means standing 6 or more feet apart from someone else.
  • “Quarantining” means staying home for at least 10-14 days (which I think some people don’t fully understand).
  • Stimulus checks were distributed to help the economy. Yet, I never got a stimulus check. *cue sad music*
  • The NHL and NBA completed their seasons “in a bubble” meaning they lived in hotels that were quarantined from the public and no spectators were allowed in the bubble.
  • Each night my parents put the money that was given to them at S&S into our dryer on high heat because it kills the germs. “Laundering money” at its finest, folks.
  • Spending more time at home resulted in more time spent with the dogs! That’s a win for me!
  • Eventually, the pandemic will end. When? I’m not sure. I just know we’ll be wearing masks for a very very long time!

Running Stats of 2020:

  • Total miles: 1,008 miles (vs 2019 at 1,025.1 miles)
  • Highest monthly mileage: April (151.3 miles) (vs 2019 at May 103.5 miles)
  • Races: virtual Sasquatch 5k
  • Shoes worn: Altra Superiors & Altra Escalantes
  • States I ran in: New Jersey, Maryland, & Delaware

Cycling Stats of 2020:

  • Total miles: 874.4 miles (vs 2019 at 1,111.7 miles)
  • Highest monthly mountain bike mileage: July (129.6 miles) (vs 2019 at May 93.5 miles)
  • Highest monthly road bike mileage: July (373.2 miles) (vs 2019 at August 287.9 miles)
  • Highest monthly combined mileage: July (502.8 miles) (vs 2019 at August 325.4 miles)
  • Total Road Bike Miles: 527.1 miles (vs 2019 at 739 miles)
  • Total MTB Miles: 347.3 miles (vs 2019 at 372.7 miles)
  • Races: none

Total woman-powered miles: 1,882.4 miles

This year has been a wild rollercoaster. It feels like March was a very long time ago. There are some months I reflect on and think “what did I even do that entire month?!”. April and May in particular feel like an absolute blur. Come to think of it, June does too.

I guess because there wasn’t much we could do, in terms of vacationing or doing fun things with friends, we spent a lot of time doing the same things. For me, that included running, biking, taking pictures of cute dogs, working, reading, watching Netflix, cooking, and sleeping.

For 2021, it’s hard to set expectations and long-term goals. Each week of FW is an accomplishment which means I’ll aim for 12 consecutive smaller accomplishments to start off the year. I also hope to finish grad school, take the NBCOT, and be able to add “OTR/L” to the end of my name. I want to become employed as an OT. I want to spend time with my dogs, running and hiking. I want to spend time with friends and family (safely). I want to bike more, run more, and maybe do an ultra (or some other race that Josh & I are brainstorming). I also hope to host another scavenger hunt race and start up group runs again when it’s safe. I want to read more books. I want a real job with a steady income. Better health care coverage would also be nice. I want my family, friends, and dogs to be healthy. I want to be the best maid of honor I can be in my best friend’s wedding!

This sure is a long list of things I aspire for. I will do my best with the cards that are dealt to me. I’m not signed up for any races. I’m not setting a specific date I want to take the NBCOT. These things are out of my control. I need to do step 1 before I can progress to step 2. One step at a time.

If you’ve gotten to this point in the blog, thanks for listening to my ramblings! This year has been a year that’s felt like 5 years. So many hopes, dreams, aspirations, and lives were lost. So many families affected one way or another. Yet, there were some good things that came out of this year – like a booming family business, helping healthcare workers with kindness and unity, adopting Burton, finishing one of two FW rotations, reading a lot for leisure, house projects with Josh, spending time (although limited) with friends, and, in general, good health.

I pray that 2021 brings good things, gratitude, and joy for my family & friends!